Indonesian minister calls for ‘social media detox’

A man plays with his mobile phone in front of a cellular provider’s advertisement with a Facebook logo in Jakarta. File/AFP
Updated 08 April 2018
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Indonesian minister calls for ‘social media detox’

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Rudiantara, has called for a social media detox following Facebook’s revelation that the personal data of more than a million Indonesian users may have been improperly accessed.
“I call on Indonesians to temporarily fast from using social media. If they really have to use it, please be really careful when sharing personal data,” Rudiantara told Arab News in a telephone interview on Saturday.
Rudiantara said he contacted Facebook representatives in Indonesia two weeks ago and gave them a verbal warning over the possible data breach when initial reports of Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged.
After Facebook disclosed in a blog post on Wednesday that a large number of Indonesian users’ data had been shared with Cambridge Analytica, Rudiantara summoned company representatives for a meeting on Thursday and gave them a warning letter.
“We asked them to provide us with their audit results to see how personal information of Indonesian users have been used. We also asked Facebook to block third-party applications from accessing Indonesian users’ personal data,” he said.
Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer wrote in the blog post that the firm believes information from up to 87 million users worldwide may have been improperly shared.
According to the chart in the post, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are among the top 10 countries whose citizens’ personal data may have been harvested for Cambridge Analytica’s inappropriate use.
The chart shows that data of 1.75 million users in the Philippines, which is second to US users, could have been leaked, followed by Indonesia with more than a million users. In Vietnam, ranked ninth in the chart, about 427,000 users are believed to have been affected.
Rudiantara said he had asked police to probe alleged violations of electronic information and transactions law on the misuse of Indonesia users’ data. If Facebook is found guilty of violations, its representatives in Indonesia could face a maximum 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 12 billion Indonesian rupiah ($870,000).
In an emailed response to questions from Arab News, Facebook said it was committed to protecting people’s information, and plans to make privacy controls and settings available in all countries. The firm said it had taken significant steps to make its privacy tools easier to find, restrict data access on Facebook, and make its terms and data policy clearer.
“Overall, we believe these changes will better protect people’s information, and we will keep our community updated as we make more changes. We will continue to work with privacy and information commissioners, and authorities, in Indonesia,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote.
Indonesians are among the world’s most active social media users.

A survey in October 2017 by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association and the Indonesian Telecommunications Society showed Facebook is the second most popular social media application on smartphones, used by 66.5 percent of respondents. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, was most popular, with 82.6 percent of respondents.
The survey found 79 percent of respondents objected to having their personal data being transferred to another party without their consent. Almost all respondents said they acknowledged personal data shared online should be protected and that the government should draft legislation protecting personal data shared online.
Rudiantara said the data leak should prompt lawmakers to start deliberating a personal data protection bill. Data protection is currently covered by a 2016 ministerial decree.


UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

Updated 33 min 54 sec ago
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UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

  • Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016
  • France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, tightening up its existing travel advice and warning it has only limited powers to support them if detained.

The advisory came in tandem with France’s decision to hold off on appointing a new ambassador to Iran, as it seeks clarification over an attempt to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

“The Foreign Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) has taken the decision to advise against all but essential travel by UK-Iranian dual nationals to Iran,” a foreign office spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“British citizens who also hold Iranian nationality face risks if they travel to Iran, as we have seen all too sadly in a number of cases. The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, so if a dual national is detained our ability to provide support is extremely limited.”
Earlier this month Britain’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Iran to discuss cases of detained dual nationals, alongside other diplomatic issues.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
Meanwhile, France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last June, French officials said on Wednesday.
An Iranian diplomat based in Austria and three other people were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attack on a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.
The incident has hit relations just as France and its European partners are seeking to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
France’s ambassador to Iran departed in the summer. Iran has also yet to replace its departed ambassador to Paris.
“We have a charge d’affaires today in Tehran and there is a high-level dialogue between French and Iranian authorities,” said a French presidential source.
“We are working together to bring to light what happened around this event ... I wouldn’t say there is a direct link (in not appointing an ambassador), but Iran has promised to give us objective facts in the coming weeks that would allow us to pursue our diplomatic relationship as it is today.”
A French diplomatic source said the nomination had indeed been suspended as a result of the alleged plot.
France’s Foreign Ministry in August told its diplomats and officials to postpone non-essential travel to Iran indefinitely, citing the plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to discuss the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they meet on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the source said.
Along with Britain and Germany, France is trying save a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord in May and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Even so, tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, in particular its ballistic missile program.